Canada: Canada has introduced a faster and simpler visa processing mechanism for students from India and three other countries. The number of Indian students opting for studies in Canada is on the rise and this new program which cuts down the processing time for study permits (which are student visas) to within 45 days as opposed to within 60 days will be helpful.
Students from India, China, Vietnam and Philippines who demonstrate upfront that they have the requisite financial resources and language skills to succeed academically in Canada are eligible to opt for the newly introduced ‘Student Direct Stream’ (SDS) program.
The erstwhile Student Partners Program (SPP) that entailed less visa documentation and quicker processing was more narrow in scope and available only to students applying to 40 odd participating Canadian colleges. On the other hand, the SDS program, introduced in early June, is available to students opting for post-secondary courses (ie: college education) at all designated learning institutes, according to a statement issued by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), which is the Canadian government’s immigration division.
This announcement almost coincides with the UK’s government decision to exclude Indian students from easier visa norms. Given the growing protectionism in UK and USA, the number of Indian students opting for Canada is steadily growing. Indian students obtained 83,410 study permits during 2017, a rise of 58% over the previous year.
Earlier, including during 2015 and 2016, Chinese students were the largest class of international students to be allotted the study permits. India topped this list in 2017, with its students garnering 26% of the total study permits issued in that year, with China following closely behind. The trend of Indian students being the largest class of international students is is more pronounced during the period January to April 2018, with 29,000 odd Indian students obtaining the study permits as opposed to 16,925 from China. These statistics are based on an analysis done by TOI, of the open data available on the Canadian government’s website (see table).
According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education, a non-profit agency in the educational domain, there were 4.95 lakh international students studying in Canada at the end of 2017, a rise of 20%. In an email reply to TOI, a spokesperson from the IRCC said that top source countries for international students, who were present in Canada as of December 3, 2017, were China (with 1.40 lakh students), India (with 1.24 lakh students) and Republic of Korea (with 23,050 students).
Ontario-based Talha Mohani, immigration law specialist and managing director at Migration Bureau Corp, explains the nitty-gritty of the SDS program “A study permit application is assessed in terms of eligibility and admissibility, which include finance, language and medical. Under the SDS program several of these criteria are to be satisfied upfront. The student must pay the first semester tuition fee, in addition to buying a guaranteed investment certificate of Canadian $ 10,000. A minimum score of 6 for English in the International English Language Testing System is also required. The applicant also has to submit a copy of the upfront medical exam confirmation document. Given that some key criteria are met upfront when the application is made, enables the IRCC to reduce the time required to verify and complete the assessment process.”